Ethnic and social class differences in selected anthropometric characteristics of Mexican American and Anglo adults: The San Antonio Heart Study

R. M. Malina, B. B. Little, M. P. Stern, S. P. Gaskill, H. P. Hazuda

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

48 Scopus citations

Abstract

Selected anthropometric dimensions and indices were examined in 1328 randomly selected Mexican American and Anglo adults, 25 through 64 years of age, from San Antonio, Texas. The Mexican Americans were resident in three socioeconomically distinct areas in the city: (1) low income barrio, (2) middle income transitional area, and (3) high income suburban area. The Anglos were resident in only the latter two areas. Among the Mexican Americans, stature increases with socioeconomic status in both sexes. Mexican American men from the three social strata do not differ significantly in weight, relative weight, Quetelet's index and subcutaneous fatness. Mexican American women from the lowest social stratum are absolutely and relatively heavier with thicker skinfolds and a larger arm circumference than women from the transitional and suburban areas. Suburban women are smaller in all dimensions except stature. Social class differences in Anglos from the transitional and suburban areas parallel those for Mexican Americans in the same areas. Ethnic comparisons within the same socioeconomic level show Mexican Americans as shorter, relatively but not absolutely heavier, and fatter at the subscapular but not the triceps skinfold site than Anglos. The thicker subscapular skinfolds of Mexican Americans, coupled with the lack of an ethnic difference at the triceps skinfold site, suggests an ethnic difference in fat patterning. These findings have implications for the definition of obesity in epidemiologic surveys using anthropometric techniques, since the sites chosen for skinfold measurements may not be equally diagnostic of obesity in different ethnic groups.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)867-883
Number of pages17
JournalHuman Biology
Volume55
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 1 1983

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Genetics
  • Genetics(clinical)

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